Sunday, July 29, 2012

We did it!

After nearly 21 months, we finally did it. Anthony and I finally left Katie with a babysitter (my mom) and went out - after dark! We went to his friend's wedding reception in San Jose. The ceremony was in the morning, so Anthony went to that without me. We figured 15+ hours would be a lot to ask of any babysitter, even a relative.

I bought a new dress for the occasion, and I wore some heels I'd bought before Katie was born but never had a chance to wear*. My mom came over around 3:00 and played with Katie while I started getting ready. I actually had a chance to style my hair (well, to the best of my ability, which is severely limited), shave my legs (wow!), paint my fingernails AND toenails (huge wow!), and get dressed. Just this alone was a huge luxury, folks. And I must say, the ritual of getting ready lent a real sense of importance to the outing.

We came up with what we thought was a foolproof plan for our exit. We didn't want to make leaving a huge production, because we thought Katie would freak out. So, we planned for my mom to take her for a ride in her stroller just as we were leaving. We'd say goodbye and then Katie and my mom would leave us instead of us leaving Katie. That all sounded fine, but Katie knew something was up the moment she saw me in my dress. I picked her up, covered her with kisses, and put her in her stroller. We said goodbye, but the stroller didn't get 5 feet before Katie started to howl. My mom took off at almost a run, but I could still hear my little sweetheart crying "MAMA! MAMA! MAMA!" So heartbreaking! :(

However, we knew that Katie would be OK as soon as she was distracted, and there are about a million different things to distract her when she's in her stroller - doggies, geese, bicycles, birds, joggers, bees, bunnies, you name it. We have a bunch of trails that go all over our neighborhood, across bridges and along lagoons. My mom also likes to take Katie up to the wooden structures that overlook the bay. So we weren't too worried, but it's still so hard to hear her crying for Mama.

We got to the wedding reception, and met a bunch of friends of ours. We got drinks, and I looked around at everyone and said, "This is weird! I'm wearing high heels, I'm standing upright instead of with one hip out and a 25 pound toddler on it, I have a drink in my hand, and it's 6:00 and I'm not struggling to get dinner ready and feed Katie at the same time. Weird!" And it was weird. It was also fantastic. It did take about an hour and another cocktail, but I finally got over the strangeness and started to have fun.

It was great. We had dinner, we talked with friends, we danced. We found out that two of the couples at our table had toddlers within a month of Katie's age. We all talked about our kids a lot. I think it's going to take some practice before we're able to just forget all about Katie the second we walk out the door. I'm a little ashamed to admit that I showed pictures and even videos of Katie, but I promise it was to illustrate some point or other that I was making. Oh well, I guess I'm "that mom." This probably means I can no longer roll my eyes when I hear that my mom has been boring everyone silly, including the postman, the dentist, and the guy behind her in line at the movies, with pictures of her "grandbaby."

We got home at 11:45. That is more than two full hours past my usual bedtime! We sneaked in the house, as quiet as mice, and got the scoop from my mom. Katie was great, she said, and went to sleep without any problems. YES!!! Unfortunately, the screaming we heard as we were leaving lasted 30 minutes! OMG! My mom said she timed it. Wow, I had no idea that Katie could keep it up that long, with all the delightful sights to see. My mom strolled her for an hour and a half, because she thought that if she brought Katie back to the house, Katie would start looking for us and crying again. She didn't, though. She was pretty much fine after the 30 minutes were up. WHEW! So relieved.

I'm so glad we went! I can definitely see how a night out can help you reconnect with your spouse. YAY for date night! We're going to make it a regular thing!

*Those heels are going straight to charity. They are TORTURE! Other women seem to have some sort of immunity to high-heel pain, but I have exactly zero. Especially because I wear sneakers every day. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Boo! Katie picked up a virus at Gymboree. She is snotty, feverish, and generally miserable. Actually, that's not so - she just isn't quite her usual exuberant self. She's still running all over the place, but a tad more slowly and quietly, and she seems more likely to cry and want Mommy. We've even had a visit from the throw-up monster, and this time it was due to illness rather than anger. Pobrecita! Plus, now I have a scratchy throat and runny nose. If there's a silver lining, though, it's that I've gotten several unsolicited "run-to-Mommy-for-a-big-hug" moments. There is nothing like those in the whole world.

This may be an overreaction, but I'm having second thoughts about Gymboree. I don't intend to keep Katie in a plastic bubble or anything, but I get really annoyed when parents bring their sick kids to the park or play group. So far we've been really lucky - we've been going to Gymboree for about three months, and I haven't seen any sniffly kids. But we must have hit the germ jackpot on Friday. Grr.

Katie has only been sick 4 times in the 20 months since she was born, and that's great. The weird thing is, for the first 14 months she wasn't sick at all. So that means she's been sick 4 times in the past 6 months, which is almost keeping pace with the kids in daycare with their average of 10 colds a year. That really makes me mad! Here I am, giving her all this great germ-free care, only to be sabotaged by an hour of open gym. Dang it!

At least Katie is willing to let me wipe her nose this time around. She still doesn't quite understand blowing, but last time she was sick, she would scream if I even came near her nose with a tissue. So that's a bit of an improvement. I'll take anything I can get! However, what really worries me is fever. Not just because fever is scary, but because I have zero chance of getting Katie to take Tylenol. More importantly, she won't even let me take her temperature! Last time I tried the ear thermometer, she went berserk. So I have no way of knowing if her fever is high enough to need Tylenol, and I have no way of giving her Tylenol even if it is. Sigh. Luckily the interwebs informed me that fevers don't cause brain damage unless they're insanely high, like 107. I think if her fever were that high, she'd not only be burning a hole through her onesie, she'd probably be screaming and inconsolable as well. She seems fine, just a little less boisterous than usual.

Let's hope we both get rid of this thing soon!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Yoga for the Uncoordinated (Me)

Last week I wrote about my experience doing yoga with Katie, and ever since then I've felt that I needed to clear up a few things. Mostly: that I'm not a yoga girl. I don't even own a pair of yoga pants, despite reports that they are slimming. I'm not the lithe, skinny, limber, willowy chick you imagine when you think of yoga. Instead I'm short, rather stiff, and somewhat squishy, especially around the middle. None of which are particularly helpful to a yoga practice.

Yoga and I are still getting to know each other. I first heard about yoga from my stepmother. She was always doing weird pretzel-y bends and stretches while we were out in public - in line at Disneyland, for example. Naturally I was embarrassed - not only was I a teenager, but I had some serious "blended family" issues as well. So for a long time after that, I thought yoga was pretty lame.

It wasn't until many years later that I came across yoga again. I had joined a gym because I wanted to get in shape, and I discovered that I really liked group exercise classes. Step aerobics was my favorite, although I made an utter fool of myself the first few times I went. Picture me, hiding in the back with my step, repeatedly getting my right and left mixed up. Then imagine my surprise when the instructor called an "Around the World" type move, and suddenly the whole class was facing me (I didn't know I was supposed to turn around too. Oops.)

One day I noticed something called "PiYo," or Pilates Yoga, on the class schedule. I'd heard a lot about Pilates (mostly that celebrities do it to stay skinny) so even though the class had "Yoga" in the title, I tried it anyway. I really, really liked it, especially the instructor, who managed to be perky and encouraging without being annoying. I discovered that most of what we were doing was yoga, not pilates. Hmm, maybe I'd been wrong. Maybe yoga wasn't lame after all.

Next came quitting the gym (too expensive) and trying to do yoga at home, with a video. The video was pretty good, but somehow I got all caught up in not having the right props and gave up.

A few years later, I discovered a yoga studio close to my work. It was a serious studio, for people with an active yoga practice. In other words, it was hot and smelly, the instructors had names like Bodhi and Shakti (but were caucasian), everyone there was SUPER flexible, and I felt so inept that I couldn't focus on doing the poses. All I could think about was how stupid I looked. Wall to wall mirrors didn't help, either. Why does Warrior 2 do such a spectacular job of showing off my arm flab?

It wasn't until I was pregnant with Katie that I started to "get" yoga. In my search for a doula, I found Blossom Birth, a nonprofit that teaches a huge variety of prenatal classes. They have a prenatal yoga class every single day of the week! I tried it a couple of times, and left there feeling more relaxed than if I'd had a massage. (Which is saying a lot!) The poses were modified for our more cumbersome pregnant bodies, which was perfect for me, pregnant or not. We were encouraged to just do whatever felt comfortable, and to rest if we felt like it. All the other yoga studios said that too, but nobody ever did it! At Blossom I finally felt comfortable with my ineptitude, and I started to actually enjoy myself.

The icing on the cake? During the toddler yoga class I wrote about last week, we were doing Warrior 2 when the instructor came around to make adjustments. This used to be the part I dreaded the most - I was NEVER doing the poses right, because I'm not flexible enough to do them, and I always felt so humiliated when I couldn't make the corrections the instructors suggested. Well, this time, the instructor looked at my form, and said admiringly, "You've done yoga before!" Then she moved on.
You should have seen the grin on my face!

I was even able to forget about my arm flab. :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Nothin' to say but I'm saying it anyway

I've got very little to blog about today, but I want to keep at it. I really do believe that ritual is a big part of creativity, so I want to make sure I don't get out of the creative habit. I think I've mentioned this idea before; it's from The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. I should probably confess that I only read the first chapter of this book - I bought it for my uncle, an artist who had hit a creativity rough patch. But the idea stuck, and I can really see the value in it.

So what's going on with me? Let's see. I'm preparing for a visit from Crazier Grandma. That's my mom. Anthony's mom has the coveted title of plain Crazy Grandma. We agreed a long time ago that no matter how crazy Anthony's mom may seem sometimes, my mom is definitely crazier. By a lot. If Katie had three grandmas, my mom would absolutely be Craziest Grandma. The other grandma might be more or less crazy than Anthony's mom, but no way would she beat out mine.

This visit, Crazier Grandma (she prefers "Grammy," by the way, so maybe that's what I'll call her from now on) is planning to look for a place to live. That's right, Grammy is moving to Northern California. Or at least, she says she is, but she's not called Crazier Gra - I mean, Grammy - for nothing. Grammy has already managed to sabotage the apartment hunt, and she hasn't even left L.A. yet.

How do most non-crazy people go on an apartment search? When Anthony and I were looking for apartments, a lifetime ago, we went about it this way. We figured out how much we could afford to spend. We looked online for places in our price range. We visited them. We picked the nicest one we could afford, and moved in. Sounds easy, right?

Well, Grammy knows her budget, and she has already visited a TON of places. Some are nice. Some are cheap. But none are both at the same time. We're talking champagne tastes on a beer budget here. My mom is the quintessential Princess and the Pea. I mean this quite literally, actually - you know how mattress stores have a 90-day money back guarantee? My mom is currently on her FIFTH mattress return. Who on earth does that?

Grammy's wish list of apartment features is pretty long. She wants the top floor, so nobody is walking overhead. She wants a washer and dryer in the apartment so she doesn't have to deal with stairs or communal laundry. She wants an elevator. She wants an open kitchen so the space feels bigger. She wants a balcony with a view so she can have cocktails and watch the sunset. (Really, this is on the list. She hardly ever drinks, but I didn't have the heart to deflate her fantasy.) She wants the building to be well-constructed and nearly new. She wants the apartment to not be too hot - yes, I told her that the top floor is the hottest because heat rises. She wants to be close to where we live, but not near the train tracks. (NB - we live on a peninsula and the train runs directly through it, from San Francisco to San Jose. Pretty much EVERYTHING is near the train tracks.)

Combine all that with the fact that she can't afford to live here, and you can see why I say she's sabotaged the apartment hunt. And that's fine, in a way, because frankly I can tolerate occasional calls and visits from Crazier Grandma - I mean, Grammy - who lives 400 miles away. But daily or weekly visits from Grammy down the street? Yikes.

But, no matter how I feel about it, Katie really digs Grammy. Grammy likes to make up songs. In fact, you really can't stop Grammy from making up songs, even if you ask her to. Repeatedly. Katie loves that. And Grammy really digs Katie, too, and she's got a whole backlog of arts and crafts and games that she can't wait to do with Katie. So that's pretty cool.

Well, whether Grammy moves here or not, Katie's going to have a nice week-long visit. We'll see how Mommy survives. Heck, if nothing else - good blog fodder! Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wednesday Adventures

Wednesday is Katie's favorite day of the week. Not coincidentally, it's my least favorite. We have both garbage collection and gardeners on Wednesdays. In a way, it's nice to get all the noise and commotion over with on the same day. But on the other hand, it's a lot to deal with. Not just the banging and screeching of the trash trucks or the ear-splitting buzz of the lawn mowers, or even the insanity-inducing drone of the leaf blowers. It's that Katie loves to watch the spectacle of all these strange people milling about. She drags me to the dining room windows and insists I open both of them so she can ooh and aah at the sights, sounds and smells of the lawn being mowed. Then, when that just isn't enough anymore, she drags me by the hand to put my shoes on, then pulls me outside so I can hold her on my hip while the garbage men do their thing. Did I mention we have three sets of garbage trucks: recycling, trash and compost? And that since we live on a cul-de-sac, each truck has to pull in forwards, collect the right side's trash, then back up, pull in again backwards, and collect the left side? It takes forever, and I'm so tired of watching it.

Katie, on the other hand, loves these guys so much that she blows them kisses and waves bye-bye when they leave. She's their #1 fan. The garbage guys beep their horns back at her (because they weren't making nearly enough noise to begin with, right?) Even when we pass a garbage truck while we're in the car, I start to hear "Muh! Muh!" I mentioned this to Anthony, who said, "Oh, great. She loves garbage men and gardeners, but when we take her to see the doctor, she screams her head off? She's gotta work on having higher standards!" I replied that if we could arrange a parade of doctors in front of our house once a week, I'm sure she'd love them too.

Yesterday was Wednesday. About 15 minutes after Anthony left for work, I realized I'd forgotten to take the garbage cans out to the curb. I left Katie to her own devices in the kitchen while I went into the back yard. After I took the cans out, I went back to the sliding glass door, where I could see Katie inside, reaching up and trying to open it. It's far too heavy for her, which is why I closed it - I didn't want her running into the street after me. Usually this is fine - I come back to the door, we make silly faces at each other through the glass, and then I open it and maneuver my way back inside before she can run out. But this time, it wouldn't open. I tried and tried, but I could see that somehow Katie had locked me out. And, even worse, she had no idea she'd done that and had no idea how to unlock it. I tried to coach her through it, but she was so angry that I was outside, where she wanted to be. She started to scream. I frantically tried to think. We don't have a spare key hidden. Our garage door doesn't have a code to unlock it from the outside. The front door is always locked. The windows are always locked. I couldn't think of anything but to call Anthony to make a U-turn and come let me back in the house. Unfortunately, traffic was horrible and he estimated it would take at least half an hour.

Finally I ended up prying the screen off of one of the kitchen windows, which was uncharacteristically and mercifully unlocked, and crawling in over the kitchen sink. WHEW!!! And Katie and I headed straight to Home Depot to have some spare keys made. Whilst there, I went and looked at the drain augurs for toilets. Not to overshare, but our toilet has been clogged for quite some time now. Not totally stopped, but slow. We tried plunging, pouring special enzymes down there, plunging some more, but nothing. I called a plumber and found out that it's a $150 minimum charge to even have someone come out to look at the toilet, and that the repair could cost up to $750. So I was pretty close to buying this toilet augur, which we'd probably use once. And then how/where do you store something that's been in your toilet??? EWWWW. Then I spied a nifty little gadget that's technically meant for sinks. It's kind of like a flattened piece of plastic barbed wire, with a handle on one end. You stick it down the drain, wiggle it around, and yank it back out. For $2.50 I thought I'd give it a shot.

When we got home, I heated up some water on the stove, grabbed some dish soap and rubber gloves, and headed upstairs. (I'd read online that hot water and dish soap can help to loosen things up.) I put on the gloves, did the soapy hot water treatment, stuck in my gadget, and VOILA! What should appear but a purple plastic baby spoon!  Gee, I wonder how THAT got in there. Weeks and weeks of plunging and worrying and nearly spending big bucks on a plumber! Needless to say, I'm ordering toilet locks from Amazon in another browser window right now. Gaaaaaaaaah!

Thank goodness Wednesday is over!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mom/Toddler Yoga

Yesterday during Katie's nap I was sitting on the couch, minding my own business, when I received an email from Blossom Birth. Blossom is a non-profit center dedicated to pregnancy, birth, and babies. They have natural childbirth prep classes, breastfeeding help, prenatal yoga, meditation, babywearing classes - in short, they're Crunchy Central for prospective and new parents. I even found my doula through them. Every so often, they send me emails with upcoming classes. One of them has been on my mind for a while. Here's the class description:

Blossom's Mom & Toddler Yoga class is perfect for you and your mobile baby! Join us for yoga postures which will include your child (and some just for you), a little meditation (yes, it's possible even with a toddler in tow!), some singing, games, and time to connect with other moms. As you know, toddlers are unpredictable- and so will be the flow of the class, following the needs of our children.

We have a mom's helper who assists with engaging the children, so that you may more fully enjoy the yoga practice. Treat yourself to this unique experience and add a bit of peace to your day with your busy toddler!

Intriguing, no? So yesterday's email had this added enticement: STARTS TODAY!  It was 2:00. The class starts at 3:30. Katie was still asleep. Hmmm, should we try it? Why not? I packed all of the necessary snacks and waited for Katie to wake up. I skipped her wake-up bottle and just endured the screaming as I changed her and brought her downstairs for her snack. I fed her as quickly as I could, but before I knew it, the clock said 3:15. Blossom is 20 minutes away, without traffic. Ugh. But, I decided to go anyway. Hippies never start on time.

We got there late, of course, but I don't think we missed a whole lot. Katie was a little freaked out by the dim lights and all the mommies and babies on yoga mats, so she insisted on being held while I blundered around, trying not to interrupt the OMs while I got a yoga mat and found a place to sit. The instructor, a nice, smiling lady with white hair in a ponytail, told us that the yoga room was a safe place for the kids to explore, and not to worry about them while we did our poses.

After clinging to me with white knuckles for a few minutes, Katie gradually relaxed enough to explore a little. I noticed that the other little ones, who varied in age from 7 weeks to about 3, were sitting nicely on the mats with their moms. Katie wanted no part of that. Sit still? I don't think so! The instructor introduced the mom's helper, who turned out to be a 12-year-old girl. The girl did seem to love kids, but I don't think she really understood the concept of keeping multiple kids entertained at once. She thought she could just read a book aloud and that the kids would sit there, enthralled. Katie does love books, but she wasn't interested in hearing this girl read. She proceeded to take the book from the girl and bring it to me to read instead. :) Love my little cutie! (Don't worry, I made her give it back.)

Anyway, the class was really nice, in spite of the fact that having a so-called mom's helper was pretty worthless. I didn't mind interrupting my yoga poses to interact with Katie - that's what I do all day, every day, so I'm quite used to it. And I thought Katie did really well in this totally new, strange environment. It was the first time Katie had ever been around other kids without my involvement. I firmly believe in not being a helicopter mom, but I like to take advantage of opportunities to help her learn sharing and politeness. She's terrific about it, too, but she's little and needs gentle reminders. So it was weird not to say anything if she took another kid's toy. It was even weirder not to watch what she was up to. But sometimes you're upside down and other people are blocking your view...and I just let it go. Ahh.

Of course, about halfway through the class Katie discovered the sign-in table, complete with all sorts of goodies just waiting to be destroyed: pens, a clipboard, brochures, a plastic sign holder, etc. So I think I missed a good portion of yoga while extracting her from this newfound treasure. This could explain why I'm more sore today on one side than the other. So much for the room being a "safe place." And thanks a lot, mom's helper. Katie also found the cords to the mini-blinds, hooray! Basically, they haven't made a baby-proofed room that can stump Katie.

I do think the best part was the end, when the instructor and the mom's helper gathered up all the kids and gave them stamps and stickers and cookies, while the mommies laid on the floor for a few minutes of meditation. Come to think of it, lying on the floor doing nothing is ALWAYS the best part of yoga, toddlers or no. Oh, that and feeling so good afterwards. You'd think I'd do yoga every day, it feels that good, but...well, here I sit on the couch instead, surfing the web and blogging. Oh well. :)

All in all, it was a pretty good time! Nap times permitting, maybe we'll make it a regular thing. Namaste!

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Ants Go Marching One by One...

...And I Really Don't See How It's Any Cause for Celebration

I know, I know. I shouldn't complain about ants. California has so few annoying insect pests. We have a few small mosquitoes once in a while. They're annoying if one gets into your bedroom, but apart from that they're not much of a nuisance. You don't get eaten alive if you decide to dine al fresco on the back patio. We have some cockroaches, but they're very small and (knock wood!) I've never had any inside the house. Termites are a really common problem, especially the closer you get to the coast, but our house is fairly new and I haven't seen any evidence that they've moved in. And even if they had, they wouldn't be bothering us at all - just munching on our house and causing slow, costly damage.

So I realize that ants are so much less horrible than many of the bugs out there in other parts of the country and world. I've seen the mosquitoes in Maine - they're so big you could saddle and ride them. Ditto the water bugs in Louisiana. And let's not even get started on Australia, with all their deadly snakes and spiders and whatnot.

All of that said, it is still pretty nauseating to come downstairs in the morning and see your white kitchen sink covered with ants. Sure, they're tiny little brown ants, not fire ants or anything, but STILL. Gross. This has happened every morning for the past 10 days or so. Seems no matter how clean (or, let's face it, dirty) things are, the ants keep coming back. Sometimes they only want water. Sometimes they find a teeny tiny half of a raisin that Katie left on the floor. (That's the worst - our floors are dark brown so sometimes you don't see the ant trail until you've stepped in it - AUGGH!) I wrote a little song parody about it:

The ants are in the compost bin, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The ants are in the garbage can, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The ants are in the recycling now,
I'd like to get rid of them all, but how?
And they all go marching down
In the sink
Just to get
On my nerves
Dang, dang, dang!

Furthermore, you guessed it - I don't want to spray them with horrible chemicals. They don't call me "Crunchy Mom" for nothing. I have some borax traps that actually work pretty well, considering borax is relatively harmless to the environment. But, they take several days or even weeks to work, and I obviously can't put them anywhere Katie will find them. So that pretty much means I can't use them at all.

Looks like I'm going to have to be extra-super-vigilant about cleaning up the kitchen before bed every night. UGHHH. Right now my evening routine is: Put Katie down. Brush & floss so I won't be tempted to eat dessert. (Or, skip this step and eat ice cream directly out of the carton.) Veg on the couch with iPad and Mad Men. Stay up too late and vow to go to bed early the following night.

Not much room there for chores. I'm sooo tired by the end of the day! But I'm also tired of finding ants in the kitchen in the morning. Sigh...